2

Review: Covet by J R Ward

6652893

 

Covet (Fallen Angels #1) by J R Ward (Piatkus 2009)

“Seven deadly sins. Seven souls to save. This is the first battle between a savior who doesn’t believe and a demon with nothing to lose!

Redemption isn’t a word Jim Heron knows much about-his specialty is revenge, and to him, sin is all relative. But everything changes when he becomes a fallen angel and is charged with saving the souls of seven people from the seven deadly sins. And failure is not an option. 

Vin DiPietro long ago sold his soul to his business, and he’s good with that-until fate intervenes in the form of a tough-talking, Harley-riding, self-professed savior. And then he meets a woman who will make him question his destiny, his sanity, and his heart-and he has to work with a fallen angel to win her over and redeem his own soul.”

What did I like?

Vin – He was a great character. And there is something refreshing about the fact that he is entirely human (for the most part) compared to the Black Dagger Brotherhood (as much as I love those guys) His progression as a character was really interesting, and I enjoyed the pronounced difference from his beginning self, compared to the end.

Trez/Caldwell – The crossover stuff from BDB was well played! I think it could have been too easy to have those other big bastards have cameos, but I think it would have overshadowed and somehow belittled the main action. The inclusion of Trez made sense, and added a familiar face without it being ‘too’ familiar, you dig? I love being in the same town too.

Narrative style – Ward’s voice in this series, and in BDB, is so much fun! Cursing, colloquial and cool. There’s no denying the blokish nature of the characters- real SOB’s for sure.

Dog – Aww! Dog is so cute! xD

Plot – Actually, I can’t believe I’m going to say this.. but the overall plot for Covet was much more compelling than reading a BDB book. And I think it’s because when I read about Wrath and his band of brothers, I’m far too interested in the emotional (and sexual) relationships going on than the actual grit of the story- if it isn’t a brother’s perspective, I ain’t interested. With Covet, however, the intrigue and suspense had me the whole way.

What didn’t work for me?

Jim Heron – The main guy. I know! I feel like I need another book to really warm up to him. I was much more into his mate Vin (and I hope we see him in future books?) and the angels too. Hilarious! But Jim was just a flatline for me. No up. No down. Just ‘yeah, cool’. I’m waiting for him to make me go ‘HELL YEAH!’

Finding faith – I always have some hang ups about the way angels and demons are presented in literature. I’m not a particularly religious person, in the regular sense of the word.. And so I’m never sure how I feel about running with a narrative that ultimately assumes you’re cool with heaven and hell battling out their differences on earth, through humans. It’s only a small thing really.. It doesn’t really effect how I relate to a story.

_

I was worried about starting this series.. I mean, I’ve put the Black Dagger Brotherhood on such a high pedestal..

But I shouldn’t have worried myself. I need to have more faith in the WARDen. She does it again. And I’m delighted to find another series I can jump into and love, page for page.

I’m giving Covet a strong 4 out of 5. It misses top marks because I haven’t warmed up to the main character yet. Fun, feisty fallen angels!

3

Top Ten Tuesday – Characters Who Grind My Gears!!

top ten

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so this should be fun! As usual, TTT is brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Characters Who Grind My Gears!

grinds-my-gears

1. Gandalf – Yep. I’m going there. Not so much the books (it’s been a while though) but having recently seen The Hobbits’ (plural) and rewatched Lord of the Rings.. there are so many moments where Gandalf could have been really useful with that magic staff of his.. But naw.

I think what gets me the most is when he says things like ‘you continue on through that dark and dangerous wood, I have a pointless errand to run. I’ll meet you on the other side.’

Wait.. there’s another way around? Oh wait. Sure. If you’re a Gandalf. Rules need not apply.

I suppose without Gandalf there would be no ‘wise’ one-liners..

This guy however, kills it! (King Thranduil):

tumblr_mp5ki8saI81rrohoto2_r1_500

2. Bella Swan - You knew this would be here, right? I didn’t really like her in the books, and it was only made worse in the films. Book Bella makes a little more sense (because in my imagination she had facial expressions surpassing ‘mildly confused/shocked’) but she’s such a terrible role model for angst ridden teens. Yeah sure, feel suicidal because your sparkly boyfriend broke up with you.. but damn. Maybe I have more faith in teens today.. they’ll get over it! Bella just doesn’t. And she doesn’t even try to be her own person.

Bella-Swan-harry-potter-vs-twilight-13776987-400-320

3. Ginny Weasely – No, not because she’s ginger. It’s because she’s a prat. And I’ll always be weirded out by the Harry/Ginny ship. Should have left her in the Chamber of Secrets. :/

I think it’s more because she can do SO much better..

funny-picture-daniel-harry-potter-radcliffe-snake

4. Desdamona (Othello) – I know, I know. Different place, different time. But for all her husband’s faults.. she’s so clueless. Like she could skip across to a different country with her new, socially unacceptable, husband and all will be fine and dandy? Nothing could EVER go wrong as long as you love him, right? I always feel like she ‘knows’ something bad is about to go down, but chooses to ignore it. Why, why why.

e9863aa2ab363ec3514854bc19135ccfb96e2a92e029b434ac28b0c8abe9e722

5. Felicia (Felicia’s Journey, William Trevor) – This girl is an idiot from the off. Because it’s always a sond plan to get on a boat to England when your questionable soldier beau knocks you up.. Just wonder around the Midlands (or where ever it was..?) and hope for the best, eh? She had a lucky escape. For sure.

1350968340205_7170027

6. Louis de Pointe du Lac (Interview With the Vampire, Anne Rice) – ‘Louis, Louis, Louis.. Still whining Louis!’ And that’s his general stance for the whole book. GREAT book. But after a few hundred pages, I was craving Lestat’s va-va-voom (I read those books in the wrong order..) Come one! You’re a vampire! It’s FUN! :D

tumblr_mt88g5ORvP1qhoa3wo1_500

7. Lissa (Vampire Academy, Richelle Mead) – Such a bore. So many an eye-roll to be had while reading that series because Lissa is such a stiff! I think, rather awkwardly, she’s described in a way that reminds me of someone I went to school with.. whom I didn’t have a particular bond.. So each time she spoke I could feel a ‘blah blah blah’ creeping into my brain.

 

8. Jane Austen – Not a character.. but she so often puts across her own opinions in the narrative, she might as well be. It annoys me. It’s not clever. It’s pretentious. And did I mention annoying? (That’s not to say I don’t enjoy an Austen novel.. but there are moments when I want to slam it into my forehead)

 

9. Catelyn (Game of Thrones) – Wow. Total page-skipper material. I wanted to care.. but put her chapters between Tyrion and Daenerys? Yeah. Talk about ‘pale in comparison’.

got-game-of-thrones-26504777-500-533

10. I’m all annoyed out! Can you help me fill the last spot?

 

 

0

Review: Time After Time by Wendy Godding

20836284

Time After Time by Wendy Godding (Released April 2014) via NetGalley.

She has died countless times before, and she is not going to let it happen again.

Abbie Harper dies just before her eighteenth birthday. It has happened before, more times than she can remember — and always at the hands of the same man. Her dreams are plagued with past lives, cut short.

But this latest dream feels different. Her past life as Penelope Broadhurst — an English pastor’s daughter in 1806 — keeps bleeding into her present life in ways both sinister and familiar. As Penelope meets and falls in love with the dashing Heath Lockwood, so too does Abbie meet the brothers Marcus and Rem Knight. One wants to love her; the other to kill her.

Time is running out for Penelope, but as Abbie mourns her inability to change the past, she chases the slim chance to save her future. To survive, she must solve the puzzle of an ancient love story…and Penelope just might be able to help

Well. Ok then. <– this sentiment sums up much of my reaction as I read Time After Time. I felt like it had the potential to be EXTRAORDINARY but it only ended up being ‘good’.

Let’s explore why. What did I like?

Concept – I mean, hoo-boy! That was always going to take something really special to pull it off properly. Reincarnation to repeat a doomed romance between soul mates, plus death, and hotness.. It’s a Milss&Boon trope, right? Godding does a great job, I felt, of making it less LOL and more believable.

Dream sequences – I actually enjoyed the dream sequences involving Penelope and Heath et al, than I did the ‘present day’ scenes.

Heath – Love Heath. He’s channeling a whole era of men in literature, methinks, as is Sebastian. But we’ll come to that later. For now though, let’s just leave it with Heath it Hotness.

Rem – Present day bad boy (or is he?) He was so much fun! Marcus (his goody two shoes brother) is too much of a wet week for me. Throw me into that centuries old love triangle and I’ll sort it out in seconds. Rem please!

What didn’t work for me?

Classic lit fanage – Firstly, let’s take a second to chuckle at the word ‘fanage’. So many uncompromising connotations there. Secondly, I think our author might be a classic literature fan girl. And that’s ok. But let’s analyse it-

  • Meet the boy next door ‘Heath Lockwood’ – Really? Heath. Lockwood? Heathcliff. Mr Lockwood.. Wuthering Heights? KACHING!
  • Jane Eyre name drops all the time because Abbie is doing an essay on it.
  • The ‘mad woman in the attic’ – this unnerved me the most because it’s so flippantly used, over and over. It made me wonder if the whole situation there had been understood? At one point I think Marcus says something to the effect of ‘Yeah, the mad woman in the attic gets me every time’. She has a name. She’s called Bertha. And if anyone has read Wide Sargasso Sea, you’ll forever have a different perspective on the matter. The referencing felt careless, and inappropriately paralleled.
  • An Austen – Apart from the ‘dream’ characters themselves that could have stepped out of a Bronte novel, the whole life of Penelope was a total Jane Austen. I think Penelope effectively does a Pride and Prejudice when first meeting and assessing Heath’s character. They’ll judge his manners first, and then later be shamefully relieved to find he’s filthy rich. *nods*
  • Penelope – I loved her character. But she’s effectively Lizzie Bennett with Jane Eyre’s artistic flair.
  • ‘Is this how you see me?’ – It took me AGES to work this one out, but I knew it was familiar. When Heath (I think it was Heath? Yeah, I’m pretty sure) asks this question, it rang a massive bell! Has anyone else seen the 2011 version of Jane Eyre? Well when Jane has her drawing snatched and shown to St John, he asks ‘Is this how you perceive me?’

I know it looks like I’ve gone overboard on the classic lit argument, but I’m a real fan of the classics too, and I’m really not sure here if it’s clumsy, or a stroke of genius. Either/or.

Abbie – Had some real issues with her character, more so in the first half of the book. If you imagine Cat from 10 Things I Hate About You, and merge her with Cady from Mean Girls- boom! There’s your protagonist.

Seriously, Abbie was just plain rude! To her aunt, to her friends, her co-worker, her boyfriend.. Without the reveal at the end, there was still plenty of motive for Lilly to hate on Abbie, because she’s ‘different’ to the point of being ‘difficult’.

It frustrates me when you find a character that wants to be different, but also wants to be left alone, so naturally, they’re a goth. As Marilyn Manson would say; ‘Ain’t nothin’ but a goth thing.’ I love goth culture (another point, Godding refers to it as a ‘sub-culture’, there is nothing ‘sub’ about that scene) was an active part of it as a teenager and even into my early twenties. I’m much more relaxed about my style now, but I still take a lot of elements from it..

But why couldn’t Abbie be a goth, and rock it? My parents didn’t try and tell me to take the dark make-up off, or to change my clothes, or listen to different music. They didn’t think I was suicidal or self-harming, but then, I was also respectful of my parents. Abbie is a douche to her poor aunt, no wonder she wants her to see a shrink!

Like I said, Abbie really grew on me in the second half of the book. I just wish she had kept her black lipstick. Goths are beautiful too.

Also thinking I should be a little concerned that Abbie goes to see a super-awesome band called ‘Hard Candy’. I’ve seen that film… *shivers*

__

A good read. The pace really picked up towards the end (yeah, whatever HEA occurs there, good luck explaining that one to the police. Seriously, someone is going to prison..) and I felt so sad for Rem- he’s had the bum end of the deal for all his lives. It was like watching Vampire Diaries, and cheering for Damon, even though you knew she’d always go back to Stefan *rolls eyes*

I’m giving it a happy 3.5 out of 5. It was fun, and engaging, even if I had to slap the table at the use of ‘probably cleverer’ because I’m sure it’s probably not the greatest choice of words.

9

On Finishing My Degree

It’s terrifying. To think that on May 30th I’ll be handing in my last assignment, and that’s it! Then I only have to wait for the results. Hopefully a 2:1, BA (hons) Creative Writing with English Literature.

Three years of study, and as I’ve been asked by many: ‘for what?’

For what, indeed.

Sometimes, I think it’s necessary to do something for yourself. A task, an activity, a hobby, a degree… It’s about personal development rather than putting emphasis on any professional development.

That’s not to say my degree won’t aid me in employment, or in any professional kind of arena. But it’s not why I did it.

What has my degree done for me?

- Reaffirm -

…my love of Shakespeare. I’ve taken every module possible that involved the Bard:

- Introduction to Drama and Film

- Shakespeare on Film

- Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama

…my love for writing. It should have been a given, but I had no idea just how much the course would stretch me, and expand me, as a writer. I’m much more informed about the craft, and I can see how my ‘game’ has stepped up. My writing ability has undergone a transformation that is nothing short of dramatic!

…my love for learning. I’ve always loved school, I was a goody two shoes. However, when I went to university the first time, it was overwhelming. I was out of my depth. I wasn’t ready. I only lasted 3 months. So I’m proud of myself for making it 3 years this time! The library has been a real haven.

- Grow - 

…in confidence. As a fresher (hoo boy! That feels like a lifetime ago!) I was terrified of walking into a room full of strangers. I was uncomfortable in most social situations. I never put my hand up to answer questions. And most of all, the thought of sharing my creative work with others, to critique no less, was a nightmare. That’s all changed. I feel like a more personable person (lol) and whereas I can still be quite precious about my creative writing, I love hearing what people have to say about it… Even if it’s so I can argue their point! xD

…in scope. My eyes, as the old cliche goes, have been opened. I used to be quite stubborn- unwilling to change and unwilling to accept the motives and actions of literary agents, publishers, authors etc. I feel like I have a better understanding for how the world of literature works. And I’ve found myself willing to strive to be better. Starting this blog, for instance, as a way of getting out into the blogosphere, of getting accepted into a different community.

- Aspire -

…to achieve. Well duh. It sounds obvious, but I am much more proactive about achieving the things I want out of life. There’s no more backseating it for me!

…to inspire. I want to inspire others. Somehow. Even if it’s just by passing on my experiences here, or otherwise. I’ve found a lot of material online in the WordPress community and beyond, that has inspired me in different ways.


 

I know I’ll be sad to be finishing it, even though right now I want to pull my hair out with the looming assignment deadlines. It’s undeniably changed me as a person, in only the most positive of ways, methinks.

I’m looking forward to wearing my cap and gown come Autumn! Yeehaw!

 

 

 

0

Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

18295852

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith (Expected April 15th) big thanks to bookbridgr.com for a copy for review.

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

What strikes me the most about this book is the accomplished (and enviable) writing style. It has a flourish and a keenness for detail, described in surprising and compelling ways.

Setting – This whole book works on an idea of multiple settings, with one eventual goal. Each time we’re introduced to a different place I was impressed with how eagerly I ate up the description. Sometimes when a narrative hops about from place to place, it can become choppy and less engaging. But I was right there, wanting the journey alongside Owen and Lucy.

Narrative arc – a beautifully sweet story that follows a natural and easy progression towards the inevitable end. Come on, we knew where it would end, but getting there was a lot of fun.

Continuity and motifs – This was expertly done too. So many little snippets that seem like lovely ideas at first, grow into metaphors and imagery that spans the whole ‘geography’ of the book. Both physically and emotionally.

I really liked Lucy’s character. She felt so solid, like I could easily bump into her in the street and recognise her. With Owen, less so. There was something ‘static’ about Owen’s character (yeah, yeah, he travels across a big chunk of the US) in that he moves, physically, but emotionally and personally, I felt like he had little growth. It struck me that the constant flip-flop between each character POV prevented me having any real ‘bond’ with them. It does keep it moving at a quick slick though.

Also, I wasn’t completely sold on the one page, one line, chapters that cropped up. They felt redundant to me and erring on the side of ‘metafiction’ and in a story like this I’m not sure I want to be aware that I’m reading a book, you know? I’d rather just sink right in and escape. To New York, to London, to Paris..

Who would enjoy this book? – Most people! Teen, Adult, or otherwise. For those that enjoy Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Perkins, perhaps. But I went into this blind and I didn’t want to put it down!

An imaginative and fresh narrative, for sure. I’m giving it a strong 4 out of 5. It was fun, fast paced and a treat to read, but there was nothing particularly memorable about it. Lovely writing, and there is a refreshing sense of realism to the situation, but I think I found it lacking a little in the ‘feels’ department. Maybe it’s my melodramatic side coming out.. xD

But I do now have EPIC wanderlust… *quickly books a holiday*

9

On feeling bad about a bad review

I’ve always said that if nothing else, I’m honest. This is my motto for most things in life, and yeah, sometimes it means that I end up saying things that people don’t like to hear. But my other motto is: don’t be rude! Flaming is unacceptable.

So while being honest, but hopefully constructive, why do I still feel bad when I give a book a low star rating, or when I really go to town on why it doesn’t work for me?

Maybe it’s because…

  • …I’m a writer too. In assuming that these authors work just as hard, or harder, on their manuscripts, it feels like I’m betraying part of myself and somehow disrespecting everything they’ve tried to achieve.
  • …I’ve turned into an academic (of sorts). I’ve been noticing more and more that, in nearing the end of my degree, I’ve been transformed into a different reader. I scan everything with a critical eye now. Whereas before I could easily sit back and roll with it, now I find myself analysing a narrative in ways I never would have thought previously. And this applies to themes, style, structure, moral standing, perspective, context.. the list goes on..
  • …I’m less easy to please. The more I read, the more I expect. There’s always someone who will raise the bar for you (it’s subjective- everyone has a different game changer) and after that, similar titles will pale in comparison. J R Ward, for instance; her books blew my mind and now the adult paranormal kind of genre has a lot to live up to. (Long live The King!)
  • …I’m a bitch? It’s possible, right? Sometimes you’re just not in the mood to be forgiving, or to forget the smaller faux pas or cringeworthy cliche. Sometimes I wonder if I’m hiding behind a mask of ‘honesty’ to allow me to take a harder line.

Whatever the reasoning, it doesn’t take away the guilt. Ultimately, I want every book I read to knock my socks off, but I know it just won’t happen. Some books just don’t fit the reader, and that’s ok.

But is it ok to feel bad about giving a (well rounded, I hope) bad review?

 

4

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blackman

17668473

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blackman (expected April 2014) Thanks to the publisher for an ARC :)

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

I went into this book with no illusions. It’s obvious from the blurb where this was going. That said, I wasn’t prepared for how conflicted I would feel about it. Reviews have begun to pop up around the blogosphere and the general interwebs and I was starting to think ‘is it just me?’ because I felt at complete odds to the glowing feedback coming in.

This is an ambitious book. Gretchen is, at least at first, on the surface of things, an anti-Semite. She’s been indoctrinated by a Nazi regime and her dear Uncle Dolf to be the perfect picture of Aryan womanhood.

As a YA book, I’m not sure how I feel about this initial stance. It takes a lot of bravery to attempt to write about something that caused, and still causes, a lot of pain and tragedy for people. Will we ever be far enough away from the even that the horror is dampened? Possible not.

Almost every year at secondary school we studied the Third Reich and the rise and effect of Nazism in the Second World War in some way or form, so I feel that if I was a teen or young adult reading this I would be well prepared. But the curriculum can change, subject to choice, and whereas I have faith that the grand majority of young people would have the sense not to be influenced by a narrative like this, I’m still not comfortable with Gretchen’s initial description and reactions to ‘the Jew’.

I recently wrote a short piece about ‘writing what you know’ and I still firmly believe that as a writer of fiction, the world is literally yours. But when it comes to a younger readership, there needs to be some kind of authorial responsibility. Am I saying that Prisoner of Night and Fog is irresponsible? No. However, research can only take you so far, and some areas of history need to be approached with caution.

Putting some of my moralistic issues aside… *I don’t usually include potential spoilers, but I found it impossible not to while trying to explain myself in the course of this review. You have been warned.*

Some small plot holes? If it was really a big cover up about Gretchen’s death, would the family have been allowed to keep his uniform? Part of me felt like the whole ‘mystery’ about Gretchen’s father’s death was so that she could confront her ‘Unlce Dolf’ about it near the end, and ultimately seal her fate in doing so… But… For me the moment they share, alone, at his offices is much more cause for her concern than this.

And who’s to say that he wasn’t shot in the back- if he had turned around in his ‘heroic’ act, it would have been viable. And near the end, her mother meets Gretchen and Daniel out the back of the grandparents’ house in Dachau. They’ve just hiked across a field so they wouldn’t be caught going in through the obvious road. How would her mother know which way they’d come? If they were coming at all?

Gretchen Muller – I do like her. I’m glad her insecurities and doubts about her ‘teachings’ come through early on. Literally, in the first few pages she struggles to put the strong anti-Jewish ideology into action. But I still couldn’t help but feel she was a bit dense. She’s 17, and has been Hitler’s little golden girl her whole life.. but she hasn’t read Mein Kampf until now?

Daniel Cohen – He was a little bit ridiculous to me at first. Lurking around, passing notes, lurking some more, being cryptic. Why not just wait until you have the ‘proof’ before you try to convince Gretchen you’re not a nutter? But he grew on me, for sure. The male characters appear much stronger on the page for me.

The bad brother – Wow. Now THIS is some seriously good characterisation. It would be wrong to say that I ‘loved’ him, but I admired him from a creative point of view. Such an interesting chap! His whole nature is fascinating really. The bad boys are always more fun to read.

Narrative flat spots – Sometimes, where I really wanted, or expected, some real tension or high octane feels, I was given cold description. There were moments where I was right there, gritting my teeth, tows curling, stressed out because ‘they’re gonna get caught! EEEEKS!’ but then it would switch to some cool, calm descriptions of the people on the streets, the surroundings, and it would kill the emotional response I was seeking/nearly experiencing.

These flat spots appear again, often when explaining something more factual, or reading a journal, or letter.. and I would skip it because it felt less like an imperative plot point and more like a chore.

Dangerous love – I really enjoyed the way the relationship between Gretchen and Daniel grew and explored itself. But (there’s always a ‘but’ with me at the moment) it’s not like other classic YA staples we’re used to where sure, it might be a doomed romance between a girl/boy, vampire/human, angel/demon, whatever. Here though, we know how history went. If they get caught? It’s death. No way around it. And that scared me.

We know where this will end – I think I struggle with the sense of hope and righteousness and gumption that both Gretchen and Daniel show, especially towards the end. This is because we know how this will go; hundreds upon hundreds killed, because of their religion, race, beliefs, actions, reactions… It makes the efforts of two young adults seem completely pointless. A futile effort when in the end, what difference can they make?

‘Uncle Dolf’ – I wasn’t comfortable with his characterisation. This isn’t because of who he is, but more because of all my own studies and research, I can’t imagine him how he is imagined here. He’d either be pathetically human or a ranting and raving beast- he’s almost a caricature of himself, complete with whip and pistol. It’s far too easy to label him as simply ‘psychopath’ and I have no doubt that he had some deep rooted psychological issues, but I don’t necessarily agree with that label.


 

As I said above, this was a brave book. There are some really great scenes, especially in the second half where the pace really picks up. The first 50% drove me potty with its ‘who dunnit’ preoccupation and fact throwing. I enjoyed the ending pages of this book, and they ultimately made me feel different about how I might rate it.

I just can’t separate my moral, and historical, stance from the narrative. I say ‘historical’ because my own country would go on to pay a high price for the war that is just around the corner from Gretchen and Daniel. And I think on a grander scale, Europe felt the repercussions of the atrocities for years, and still do now.

There are books, probably hundreds, that take on similar narratives, about similar people with similar goals. But I’ve never come across a YA book that does it quite like this, I don’t think. It was a big gamble, but did it really pay off? For me, it was clumsy in its handling of the relationships between the fictional and the real-fictional people; the use of German words and phrases; the balance between showing and telling.

Like I mentioned, the last few chapters and the ending was the high intensity, suspense and shock that I was waiting for. The emotional balance is better handled here, and at the moment where Gretchen is alone with her ‘Uncle Dolf’, and the lights go out… oh my word!

A confusing book for me, really. I will definitely be checking out a sequel, but I’m not sure my brain will ever sort out how it really feels about it. A solid 3 out of 5, because it is written well with great research to back it up and I can see why others may enjoy the heck out if it- but I was left feeling conflicted, and wanting more out of it than I got.